Chances are, you’ve considered feeding your bearded dragon bread. But, is it even safe or healthy for them to eat it? I too have had this question along with many others regarding the optimal diet for your pet beardies. So, I decided to do some research and would like to share with you what I found here today.
So, can bearded dragons eat bread? Bearded dragons should not eat bread, even in limited serving sizes or occasionally. Bread does not contain the nutrition a bearded dragon requires, has a poor calcium to phosphorous ratio and can be a choking hazard due to the fact bearded dragons cannot chew properly. While a small amount may be okay, for the most part, this food is better avoided and it is best to seek out other alternatives.
Simply put, bread is not ideal. Let us now explore exactly why this is and look at some suitable alternatives for your bearded dragon.
Why You Should Not Feed Bread To A Bearded Dragon
Bearded Dragons can eat a wide range of food and do best with variety. However, bread is one such food that should not be included.
It is true that bearded dragons have survived through their ability to survive on sub-optimal foods. In their wild habitats, food is hard to come by – so they have learned to accept and consume a wide variety over time.
As such, it naturally follows that bearded dragons have evolved to be omnivorous – eating a combination of both plant and animal based foods. In fact, a dietary split of 50% vegetable matter, 50% animal bases is ideal according to veterinarians.
But this all does not mean that they should, or need to eat sub-optimal foods.
As owners, it is our responsibility to provide the best foods that we can. This will ensure the health, well-being and longevity of our pets – whom rely on us solely to meet their nutritonal needs.
When it comes to bread, there are multiple reasons why it should not be included in their diet. These are:
- Poor Calcium to Phosphorous Ratio – Bearded dragons require a diet that is 2:1 parts calcium to phosphorous. Any foods that interrupt this delicate balance can be problematic, and it can be hard as an owner to readjust the balance favorably without supplementation. Bread is very low in calcium, while being high in phosphorous.
- High Carbohydrate – Bread is relatively high in calories, especially for a bearded dragon, and is mostly contains carbohydrates. Bearded dragons can easily over-consume these, resulting in weight gain which can bring a whole range of health complications.
- Nutritionally Devoid – Most bread does not contain many vitamins and minerals that are important for your bearded dragon to consume for optimal health.
- Stomach Swelling Risk – Bread is known to expand, especially when it comes into contact with water. Therefore, bread can actually expand in your bearded dragons stomach – resulting in pain, impaction and digestive distress.
- Choking Risk – Bearded dragons are unable to chew properly. For this reasons, certain foods are more challenging than others and can be a choking risk. Bread is naturally challenging for a bearded dragon to break down and swallow, as it is very dry.
While a small serving of toasted or broken up bread here and there is unlikely to lead to any long-term adverse health affects, it is simply not worth the risk.
If they were to consume a small amount it should not be a problem and there should be no cause for concern. Just do not make it a regular occurrence.
Equally, if you have already fed your beardie bread and have observed a change in their behavior, energy levels, or can see that their stomach has expanded – then it is best to contact a vet at the earliest opportunity.
What Should You Feed Your Bearded Dragon Instead?
Diet plays a big part in ensuring your bearded dragon lives a long, healthy and happy life. For this reason, it is important that we provide the right foods.
Going one step further, it is also important that we provide sufficient variety so that they can meet their nutritional requirements and we factor their age into the equation.
Generally, baby bearded dragons require more protein, insects and animal based foods. They will gravitate more to the 50/50 plant to animal based ratio.
However, as they become adults, a bearded dragon’s needs and requirements for protein reduces and they naturally have a preferences for more plant based matter. At this stage of life a 80/20 plant to animal based ratio is more optimal.
So, what are some good dietary options for a bearded dragon, that should be fed more liberally and serve as staples?
As a general rule of thumb, anything dark green and leafy should make up a large part of the diet.
Here are some of the best vegetable foods to include:
- Collard greens,
- Beet greens,
- Mustard greens,
- Bok Choy
- Bell peppers,
- Green beans,
A lesser percentage of the diet can include:
- Cooked Sweet Potato
Regarding insects, here are some of the best options:
- Phoenix worms
From here, ensure that your beardie has access to plenty of access to fresh water, changed daily. This will help to keep them hydrated.
Better Treats For Your Bearded Dragon
Sometimes we do want to treat our bearded dragons. Not only is this rewarding and can help us bond with our pets, but it also can help keep their diet interesting.
With bread out of the equation, there are several foods that you can offer as snacks that are also nutritious. Fruits are generally considered some of the best (but should be limited to a total of 10% total dietary intake).
Below are some of the best options to offer your beardie:
Other Foods You Should Not Feed Your Bearded Dragon
Lastly, before we finish up, let us know take a look at some other foods that you should not look to offer your bearded dragon. Some of these are toxic and outwardly dangerous, whereas others (like bread), provide a lack of nutrition and there are always better options available.
- Lettuce – provides no real nutrition and is mainly water. Feeding too much lettuce can also result in diarrhea.
- Spinach and Beet Tops – while okay in small amounts, these vegetables both contain a large amount of a chemical compound known as Oxalic Acid (Oxalates). These bind to calcium and other important minerals and prevent them from being absorbed and available for your beardie. In excess, they can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Metabolic bone disease can develop if this goes on for too long.
- Rhubarb Also contains high levels of oxalic acid. Equally, rhubarb is poisonous for bearded dragons.
- Wild insects may seem like a good idea to feed, but are likely to have parasites or have landed on harsh chemicals which can harm your beardie. Purchasing insects from exotic pet shops who farm insects specifically should be used instead.
- Fireflies can kill bearded dragons if eaten. Avoid at all costs.
- Avocados There are chemicals in the skin, seed and flesh which are toxic to bearded dragons and most other reptiles. Even in a small amount they can cause harm and distress.
Bearded dragons should not eat bread. There is no benefit in them doing so and the risks outweigh any potential benefit.
With that being said, a small amount should not cause an instant problem; it is with a large serving or prolonged feeding where most of the issues lie.
Being omnivorous, there are plenty of other suitable, more nutritious foods and treats we can look to offer our bearded dragons. These will promote better health, well-being and hopefully a longer life!